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VOM Spokesperson Comments on Church Registration in China

Earlier this week a report released by the China Aid Association brought forth the question 'Will church registration stop persecution in China?' Todd Nettleton, director of news services for Voice
( [email protected] ) Jan 21, 2006 11:37 AM EST

Earlier this week a report released by the China Aid Association brought forth the question "Will church registration stop persecution in China?"

On Jan. 16, the CAA report was on Jin Tianming, a pastor of at least nine house churches in Haidian District, who was detained and questioned at a police station by Beijing's Public Security Bureau (PSB) along with other leaders in his church.

According to a CAA source, Pastor Jin had been negotiating with the government to register his churches, but the PSB denied his request.

Todd Nettleton, director of news services for Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), an interdenominational organization that aids persecuted Christians around the world, raised his concern.

On a Christian Weblog regarding persecution of Christians around the world, he said on Wednesday:

"One of the things we sometimes hear from China watchers is that if the house churches would simply register with the government, their troubles and the persecution would end. But this case shows the fallacy of that position: here was a groups of churches trying to register, but instead their churches were raided and the leaders detained and interrogated."

"Registration is not the key issue for the Chinese Communist government. Control is the issue they care about. As one Christian told me during one of my visits to China, Communist leaders want the people to believe that salvation comes from the Party, from being a good Communist."

"The idea that salvation come through Jesus Christ is therefore considered dangerous by Communist Party leaders."

"This case, where churches that were trying to register were instead raided by the Public Security Bureau, shows that registration isn't the inoculation against persecution that some China observers say it is."

According to the State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2005, the Chinese government seeks to restrict religious practice to government-sanctioned organizations and registered places of worship in an attempt to prevent the rise of groups that could constitute sources of power outside the Chinese government.

However, sources say that despite the regulations and the restrictions, registered churches are expanding and increasing, but this goes also for the house churches of unregistered Christians.

Christian watchdog groups and religious freedom associations have consistently called upon the international community to pay attention to the situation of religious freedom in China, and have consistently urged China to adhere to the international human rights conventions they have signed in order to protect the freedoms of its people.